A Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Thursday approved a Farm Bureau-supported measure that would exempt most farms and ranches from unnecessary reporting of routine air emissions from animals and their manure. Having secured bipartisan backing and facing a looming May 1 deadline, farmers and ranchers are optimistic the bill will continue to move successfully through Congress.
The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act (S. 2421) would clarify that normal emissions from farm animals and their manure are not reportable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which requires facilities to report releases of hazardous substances that exceed certain threshold quantities within a 24-hour period.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations supported a rule exempting most farms from the need to report low-level emissions, but activist groups successfully blocked the rule last year at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has stayed its April 2017 decision multiple times, with the latest stay slated to expire on May 1.
“Congress did not intend to regulate farms as toxic Superfund sites,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall noted when the FARM Act was introduced last month. “Farming and ranching are challenging enough without having to report, under threat of law, something that is a routine part of raising animals, but is nearly impossible to predict or measure. We are also concerned that these needless reports would effectively create a federal database of livestock farms for activist groups to target.”
The bill, introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), has 22 Republican and 12 Democratic co-sponsors.